I want a small two person craft!

Thread starter #1
I'm very new to dinghy sailing, so I don't know exactly what I want.

Ideally, I would like a boat that I can sail myself and sometimes another person.

It would be REALLY cool if it can be strapped to the roof of my PT Cruiser, since a trailer seems like it would be a pain in the butt.

Any suggestions?
A lot depends on where you will be sailing. If you are going to be on small bodies of water where the wind is light to moderate you may want to look into Snark products. They make a foam type of hull covered with a more durable covering for their boats and they are very light. Range in weight is from 50 to 125 pounds making them so they can be car topped. They offer the basic Snark and have other designs listed, of which you may find something to your liking.
I would say look at what people are sailing at a local club. Especially if you want to get into the racing side of it. Most 2 person boats will be around 15' long, so car toping them would be hard.


Upside down?
Staff member
I'm very new to dinghy sailing, so I don't know exactly what I want.

Ideally, I would like a boat that I can sail myself and sometimes another person.

It would be REALLY cool if it can be strapped to the roof of my PT Cruiser, since a trailer seems like it would be a pain in the butt.

Any suggestions?
A Sunfish can be sailed with two. A Zuma (also made by Vanguard) is roomier and forgiving for newbies.

BTW, a trailer is nice and convenient.
Hi Chinbeard I Owned a snark and it is about the best small cartopable boat that I know of. if you get the basic or sunflower which is about 50 lbs. It is a basic fun boat and can be loaded on a PT Cruiser, as I had one also and hauled two 50 lb Kayaks on it at one time. I used a Thule rack. If that boat does not suit you needs and you have to go to a bigger boat then the Sunfish is a great choice at around 120-130 lbs. but difficult for cartopping. At that weight I went to a trailer, and a sietec Dolly and can launch by it by myself when the tides go out.
I guess I have focused on the word 'dingy'. To me that implies a boat that you can sit in more than sit on. It would be hard to find a small boat that you can sit in and still cartop. Most boats that fit the bill in the 11-13 foot range will weigh in at well over 200 pounds. The ODay Widgeon goes at 265 pounds I believe. I have a Petrel SB12 that hits the mark well over 200pounds. Snark is the only company i know that makes a 'foam' hulled boat, thus making it light enough to cartop. At one time I believe they made a boat called the Wildflower. It was 11 feet long, very square, sloop rigged and you could sail it, row it, and even put a small motor on it I believe. It could be cartopped I believe. They seem to show a boat now called the Sunchaser. With the open hull, thus making it a boat you can sit in, the Snark and the Sunchaser (if being produced) may be a choice.

"It would be REALLY cool if it can be strapped to the roof of my PT Cruiser,.."
Like Windwalker said, a Sunfish is a great boat and can be cartopped (I did it with a Durango for a couple of years) but you really need 2 people to do it safely. IF you race your Sunfish, you would most likely be solo, but if you are just cruising around, there is room for two adults. I have seen 3-4 older teenagers on a Sunfish during our clubs annual Navel Battle (a big squirt gun fight). My experience with the Snark is zero, but a friend has one (Snark II)that the hard shell has cracked and it does fill up with water and becomes very sluggish. A Sunfish is a better choice, can be found at many clubs and last a long time when properly cared for.

".. since a trailer seems like it would be a pain in the butt." A trailer might seem like it would be, but I don't feel that way any more. Yes, parking can be a hassel, but you will learn to adjust, (maybe park further away from the store when you stop for something on the way home). Backing down the boat ramp or into the drive way takes practice, but so does learning to sail. It does add an expense or 2. A set of Thule type roof racks are about $400, a galvanized tilt type trailer about $550 (new) and the taxes, licence and registration. Maintenence, greasing the wheel bearings, checking the tires and frame all need to be done, but the time involved is minimal unless you don't do it, then it could take a lot of time and money.

Advantages to a trailer - Your boat is on a movable platform (you can move it when you cut the grass). It can be ready to travel in minutes (tighten the hold down straps and hook it up to the car). Safer, no chance of dropping you Sunfish and damaging the boat, car or yourself (and you won't be worn out from trying to load it by yourself). You can use the trailer to go get that sheet of plywood or new mattress that you have been putting off 'cause you didn't have a trailer (I know, I've done it). If you decide to sell, the boat/trailer combo seems to sell faster than just a boat.

Hope this helps.
supercub is exactly right if you go with a Sunfish. I did the cartop thing with a Sunfish for 2 seasons and that was enough. The trailer, if you have the room at home to park it, provides a storage place for the boat. It also makes heading out easier, just hitch up, load up, and you're gone. Cartopping requires, IMHO, more work, and, in my case, the worry that the boat is secured correctly, along with worrying about damageing the car. Cartopping a Sunfish makes solo sailing difficult, especialy if you go to public ramps. Finding someone to help you load and unload the boat can be a pain. It can be done alone, but the thought of trying it myself would probably keep me home.
In the sailing catagory, IMHO, the Sunfish wins hands down. I have had friends that have owned Snarks and to me there is no comparison between the sailability of the two. The only advantage I see to the Snark, which I think is a disadvantage to its sailing ability, is it light weight, that makes it much easier to cartop. You can take a Sunfish on most bodies of water and out in some pretty good winds, unlike what I have seen with the Snark.
The only disadvantage of the Sunfish is the comfort factor. Sailing with 2 can be done on a Sunfish, but to me, at my age (60 plus) it is not all that comfortable. The plus of having a trailer is that it opens up the possibility of a second boat, as it has done for me. I can head out any time for a solo sail on my Sunfish or I can pull my Sunfish off the trailer and load my Petrel SB12 on and head off for a more comfortable sail with my wife.

Another thing to check out BEFORE trying to put anything on your roof racks, what are they rated for? My Durango said 130 lbs. so I was at its limits. I also tied down from side to side (2) and the front (2) and rear (1). I used the bow handle in front and a long eyebolt in the rudder bracket in the rear and then had to find a spot on the frame to anchor the straps to, put pads between the straps and car body so not to destroy the paint. Traveling at 70 mph, the straps vibrate A LOT and can wear thru the paint really quick. I used 1" ratchet straps, 1500 lbs, 10' plus long (6' are too short) at $10-15 apiece. With the trailer, I can use 2 straps but use 3 for piece of mind (one at the bow, 1 across the middle (just behind the splash guard and 1 across the aft end of the cockpit). These are attached to the frame of the trailer and not just the rack. Another advantage to the trailer is that it provides a nice stable platform for you to work on your boat, you don't need to get down on your knees with it rolling around on the ground.
Thread starter #10
Thanks for the replies...almost everyone here and in real-life seems to agree about the trailer thing.

The Sunfish seems like a pretty cool boat, and I wasn't aware that it could hold 2 people-my friends have been telling me to get a cat, but I guess it's probably because they already have Sunfish and Lasers and want to sail something else...

I will state I favor the Sunfish, I have been sailing one or another since '63. Take one of your freinds Sunfish out for a sail, it is a good boat, more stable than some (you can still capsize and that is part of the fun), lots fun and much more manuverable than a catamaran. We have a couple of cats (I believe Hobies) in our club and they just can't seem to get going on light wind days and have trouble turning. When the wind picks up, they are ok and an experience cat sailor can make the larger cats (I think F-20s) fly when the winds are up, but are also a lot more big $$$$$.

The Laser is the same size/weight as the SF, a little more in cost, a bit more complicated, faster and can be sailed by 2, but it is a more competitive boat, more tender (ready to capsize) than a SF and you have to be in good shape and nimble to sail one effectively. Not what I would call a relaxing boat compared to a SF.

There are a few other boats that are good for 2 people. Based on what we have in our club, there is the FJ, Capri and Catalina, Precision, Enterprise, Mutineer, all in the 14 - 16' range, although some I would not call beginners boats. A Sunfish can be sailed by the beginner and the experienced and enjoyed by both.

It may not be as fast as some, but in a fleet of Sunfish, it becomes mostly the skill of the sailor who will win. I regularly race my '69 SF (with most upgrades and TLC) and can beat newer boats quite often (we all have about the same skill level). Sometimes we swap boats and the results are the same, the better skipper at the time will win. Good Luck.